History of California Championships
The California Chess Reporter Vol. II, No. 2, July 1952
During the past eight months, we have been accumulating material dealing with the history of California Championship tournaments. It was important that this work be done as soon as possible, since, with the flight of time, there was danger that the story of the past might be lost forever. We have used all available sources for gathering information. Newspaper clippings, especially those left by our late beloved E. J. Clarke of San Francisco, have provided much important material. The files off the British Chess Magazine have yielded a great many details, and also old copies of the THE CALIFORNIA CHESS REPORTER. A few recent items have been taken from Chess Digest and The Reporter. These important sources, however, would not have proved adequate without supplementary information provided by a number of California chess players. We wish to acknowledge with the greatest thanks the help of A. J. Fink, Henry Gross and Arthur B. Stamer of San Francisco, and Harry Borochow and Herman Steiner of Los Angeles. A number of other players have also supplied scattered bits of information, and to these players we express our gratitude.
In the following account, we have included only those tournamentsw which may be justly considered true championship tournaments; that is, in which at least one player, opf recognized strength, from both North and South, has participated. There have been several tournaments in which either North or South has not had true representation. These competitions are of little or no interest to the person interested in the history of California championships.
1921 The first tournament for the Championship of California was held at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, San Francisco, from December 27, 1921, to January 8, 1922. Eleven players participated.
The late Elmer W. Gruer of Oakland scored the greatest victory of his career, winning 10 straight games! Then came Stasch Mlotkowski of Los Angeles with 7-3, E. J. Clarke of San Francisco and Harry Borochow of Los Angeles with 6-4, A. J. Fink of San Francisco and W. Metzke of Fresno with 5 1/2-4 1/2, Dr. W. R. Lovegrove of San Francisco 4 1/2-5 1/2, Charles Woskoff of San Francisco 4-6, George Hallwegen of San Francisco 2 1/2-7 1/2, and Bernardo Smith and S. Swanson of San Francisco 2-8.
1922 Twelve players. Los Angeles Athletic Club, beginning September 4.
Winner, A. J. Fink of San Francisco with a score of 9-2. Harry Borochow and R. F. Lyon of Los Angeles 7 1/2-3 1/2, E. F. Schrader of San Diego 7-4, S. Mlotkowski of Los Angeles and Bernardo Smith of San Francisco 6 1/2-4 1/2, D. Mudgridge of Los Angeles 5 1/2-5 1/2, E. W. Grabill and G. S. G. Patterson of Los Angeles 4-7, C. H. Whipple, Jr. of Los Angeles 3 1/2-7 1/2, E. R. Perry of Los Angeles 3-7, and J. F. Smyth of Oakland 2-9.
1923 The Western Chess Association tournament was playee this year in San Francisco at the Mechanics' Institute, from July 30 to August 6. It was agreed that the California chess player having the highest score would be recognized as California champion for the year.
S. Mlotkowski of Los Angeles and N. T. Whitaker of Washington, D. C. tied for first and second with scores of 9-2, in a field of 12 players. Mlotkowski therefore became California champion.
Other scores were: S. Factor of Chicago 8-3; A. J. Fink of San Francisco 7-4; E. W. Gruer of Oakland and Dr. W. R. Lovegrove of San Francisco 6 1/2-5 1/2; Currier of Washington, D.C. 6-5; Prof. G. E. K. Branch of Berkleley 5 1/2-5 1/2; Prof. A. W. Ryder of Berkeley 3-8; D. Mugridge of Los Angeles 2 1/2-8 1/2; G. S. G. Patterson of Los Angeles and A. Feldman of Stockton 1 1/2-9 1/2.
1925 Played in Los Angeles August 16 - 23. Nine Players.
Won by S. Mlotkowski of Los Angeles with a score of 7 1/2-1/2. A. J. Fink of San Francisco 6 1/2-1 1/2; E. W. Gruer of Oakland 5 1/2-2 1/2; E. F. Schrader of Los Angeles 4-4.
1926 Player at Athens Athletic Club, Oakland.
Tie for first and second between E. W. Gruer of Oakland and A. J. Fink of San Francisco. Gruer won the play-off, thereby becoming champion. Other scores: S. Weinbaum of Pasadena third; Henry Gross of San Francisco fourth.
1927 Played in Los Angeles, August 7 - 14. Ten players.
Won by E. W. Gruer of Oakland with a score of 8-1. Then came D. Mugridge of Los Angeles 7-2; Harry Borochow of Los Angeles 6-3; A. J. Fink of San Francisco 5 1/2-3 1/2; Henry Gross of San Francisco and S. Rubinstein of Los Angeles 4 1/2-4 1/2; G. S. G. Patterson and H. Bierwirth of Los Angeles 3 1/2-5 1/2; Prof. Bateman of Pasadena 2 1/2-6 1/2; and w. Smith 0-9.
1928 Double-round, six players. Mechanics' Institute, San Francisco.
A. J. Fink and Henry Gross of San Francisco tied for first and second with scores of 5 1/2-2 1/2. Fink won the play-off, thereby becoming champion. The scores are exceptional because Harry Borochow and S. Rubinstein of Los Angeles withdrew from the tournament in its early stages -- reasons not known. Other scores: Dr. W. R. Lovegrove of San Francisco and D. N. Vedensky of Berkeley 3 1/2-3 1/2.
1929 Played in Los Angeles, September 22 -29. Nine players.
Won by A. J. Fink of San Francisco with a score of 6-2. Fink won the Brock Trophy for having won three California championships (1922, 1928, 1929).
Harry Borochow and Dr. M. Scholtz of Los Angeles tied for second and third with scores of 5-3. Other players were Charles Bagby of San Francisco, S. Weinbaum of Pasadena, C. H. Whipple, E. P. Elliott, E. W. Grabill, and H. Bierwirth of Los Angeles.
1930 Played at Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, San Francisco, August 24 - 31. Nine players.
Won by Harry Borochow of Los Angeles with a score of 7-1. Other scores: W. Lamb of Los Angeles 5 1/2-2 1/2; G. S. G. Patterson of Los Angeles 5-3; Charles Bagby, Henry Gross and J. Tippin of San Francisco 4-4; A. J. Fink of San Francisco 3 1/2-4 1/2; Irving Spero of Los Angeles 2-6; and R. Kilian of Kelso, Nevada 1-7.
1931 Played at the Beverly Hills Chess Club in August. Eleven players.
Won by Harry Borochow of Los Angeles with a score of 8 1/2-1 1/2. Other scores: Henry Gross and J. Tippin of San Francisco 8-2; G.S.G. Patterson of Los Angeles 7-3; A. J. Fink of San Francisco 5-5; W. Lamb, L. Marks and A. H. Bierwirth of Los Angeles 4-6; C. J. Gibbs and George Goehler of Los Angeles 2 1/2-7 1/2; and C. H. Whipple, Jr. of Los Angeles 1 1/2-8 1/2.
1932 The International Chess Tournament was played this year at Pasadena, in August. It was agreed that the California player having the highest score would be champion for the year.
The scores: A. Alekhine 8 1/2-2 1/2; I. Kashdan 7 1/2-3 1/2; A. W. Dake, S. Reshevsky and H. Steiner 6-5; Harry Borochow of Los Angeles 5 1/2-5 1/2; J. Bernstein, S. Factor, R. Fine and F. Reinfeld 5-6; J. J. Araiza 3 1/2-7 1/2; and A. J. Fink of San Francisco 3-8. Harry Borochow of Los Angeles thereby became California champion. This was the third straight championship for Borochow.
1939 Played at the Hollywood Chess Group during September. Nine players.
Won by P. Woliston of Los Angeles with a score of 7-1. Other scores: H. Borochow and H. Steiner of Los Angeles 6-2; George Koltanowski of Belgium 4 1/2-3 1/2; Kovacs of Vienna 4-4; A. J. Fink of San Francisco 3-5; G.S.G. Patterson of Los Angeles 2 1/2-5 1/2; Bazard 2-6; C. J. Gibbs of Los Angeles 1-7.
1945 Played at Mechanics' Institute, San Francisco, beginning January 15. Ten players.
Tie for first and second between H. Steiner of Los Angeles and A. J. Fink of San Francisco, with scores of 8-1. There was no play-off, so Steiner and Fink with co-champions for the year.
Other scores: Charles Howland of Oakland 6 1/2-2 1/2, J. Hurt 5 1/2-3 1/2; H. Donnelly of San Francisco 5-4; Charles Svalberg of San Francisco 4 1/2-4 1/2; I. Goldberg 3 1/2-5 1/2; M. Forti 2 1/2-6 1/2; C. Jarrell 2 1/2-6 1/2; and Dr. H. Tower 0-9.
1948 This year saw a new plan. A 36-man Swiss tournament, of 7 rounds, open to all players, was played at Atascadero September 4-6.
James Cross of Glendale was the winner, with a score of 6 1/2-1/2. Then followed: A.J. Fink of San Francisco 5 1/2-1 1/2; Neil Falconer of Berkeley 5 1/2-1 1/2; Ray Martin of Santa Monica 5-2; and Wad Hendricks of Santa Cruz 5-2.
This tournament may be considered not only the California State Championship for the year, but also the first California Open Championship. Jim Cross therefore has the distinction fo being the first double-holder of the two championships.
1949 Two tournaments were held simultaneously at Atascadero over the Labor Day week-end. The first was the officially recognized round-robin of seven players for the State championship, for which preliminary qualifying tournaments were held in the North and in the South. The second qualifying tournament, which was a Swiss, open to all, cannot be recognized as an official tournament, since it was never advertised as such, and was described at the time as an "open minor tournament." For the sake of the record, however, we shall give the results of both.
State Championship: Won by George E. Croy of Los Angeles with a score of 5 1/2-1/2. Other scores: Irving Rivise of Los Angeles 4-2; Leslie Boyette of San Francisco, Jim Cross of Glendale and Earl Pruner of San Francisco 3-3; Robert P. Smith of Pasadena 2 1/2-3 1/2; and Clark Jonas of San Francisco 0-6.
Open Minor Tournament Twelve players, 7 rounds. Won by Phil D. Smith of Bakersfield with a score of 6-1. Then followed Wade Hendricks of Castro Valley 5-2; R. Goudswaard of Santa Rosa 5-2; Nick Russ of San Francisco 4 1/2-2 1/2; Judge B.C. Jenkines of Santa Rosa 4 1/2-2 1/2.
It was on this occasion that a steering committee consisting of LeRoy Johnson (chairman) and George Croy of Los Angeles, and W.G. McClain and H.J. Ralston of San Francisco, laid the plans for holding two tournaments each year, alternating between North and South: A California State Championship, with preliminary qualifying tournaments, and a California Open Championship, open to all players. This procedure has been followed since that time.
1950 California State Championship Played at Barton's Chess Studio, San Francisco, over the Labor Day week-end. Eight players.
Won by Ray Martin of Santa Monica with a score of 6-1. Then followed George Croy of Los Angeles and V. Patnutieff of San Francisco 4-3; Phil D. Smith of Bakersfield 3 1/2-3 1/2; Charles Bagby of San Francisco and Sven Almgren of Los Angeles 3-4; W.H. Steckel of Los Angeles 2 1/2-4 1/2; and Leslie Boyette of San Francisco 2-5.
1950 California Open Championship Played at Santa Barbara over the Labor Day week-end. Six rounds, 23 players.
Won by Arthur R. Spiller of Culver City with a score of 5-1. Then followed C.M. Capps of Oakland 4 1/2-1 1/2; George A. Steven of Santa Monica 4 1/2-1 1/2; George Hunnex of Elsinore 4 1/2-1 1/2; Pete Velliotes 4 1/2-1 1/2.
1951 California State Championship Played in Santa Monica and Los Angeles over the Labor Day week-end. Seven players.
Won by Arthur R. Spiller of Culver City with a score of 5 1/2-1/2. Other scores: Irving Rivise of Los Angeles 4-2; Sven Almgren of Los Angeles and Earl Pruner of San Francisco 3 1/2-2 1/2; Adolph Weiss of Los Angeles 2-4; Ray Martin of Santa Monica 1 1/2-4 1/2; Charles Svalberg of San Francisco 1-5.
1951 California Open Championship Played at Santa Cruz over the Labor Day week-end. Seven rounds, 43 players.
Won by Neil El. Falconer of Berkeley with a score of 6-1. Then followed V. Pafnutieff of San Francisco 5 1/2-1 1/2; Wm. T. Adams of San Jose 5 1/2-1 1/2; Henry Gross of San Francisco 5-2; Robert Currie of San Francisco 5-2.
And now, in the words of H. G. Wells, our history breaks off with a note of interrogation.